This morning brings news of what may become another new and important consortium – the Open Network Foundation (ONF). This time the goal is to adapt network architecture to streamline its interoperation with cloud computing. And while the news is intriguing, the way in which it has been broken is a bit odd, on which more below. According to the press release announcing the new entity: Six companies that own and operate some of the largest networks in the world — Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! — announced today the formation of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Joining these six founding companies in creating ONF are 17 member companies, including major equipment vendors, networking and virtualization software suppliers, and chip technology providers.
The technology that the new foundation will promote has been some time in the making, growing out of a six year collaboration between Stanford and the University of California Berkeley. The results are what ONF calls “Software-Defined Networking,” or SNF. SNF incorporates a software interface referred to as “OpenFlow” and a set of global management interfaces upon which management tools can be built. The essential goal appears to enable the creation of "programmable networks" (large and small) that can have "fast lanes" that give priority of transmission to specified data.
Notwithstanding the group of powerhouse companies that are apparently now going to adopt SNF, a picture of the developers of the OpenFlow specification reveals, not surprisingly, a group that looks fresh out of a university computer lab. According to The OpenFlow Website,
It will be interesting to watch this one, and in particular what shows up at its Web site and when. Meantime, take a look at the NYT article, which takes a deep dive into what the business/technical mission is all about.